Please follow the steps below to collect blood for an avian DNA test. When collecting blood, use
caution to avoid DNA sample cross-contamination and/or bird infection. Avoid touching the square
on the Avian Blood Sample Card where the blood is to be placed. If you are collecting samples from
more than one bird, you should sanitize the nail clippers with alcohol and wash your hands
thoroughly between each collection.
1. Clip Toenail to Obtain a Blood Sample
With the bird under control, examine the toenail to ensure it is clean. A swab of alcohol can be
used to clean the area, if necessary. Use a sanitized pair of nail clippers to clip the bird’s toenail just
enough to nick the vein (approximately 2/3 of the distance from the root of the nail) and produce
blood flow. See illustration.
2. Spot Blood on the Blood Card
Remove the first bead of blood with a swab or absorbent cotton ball and discard. Next, carefully
touch the Avian Blood Sample Card to the blood flow and absorb a few drops of blood onto the
card. If the blood flow is slow, gently squeeze on the toe with a pumping action. It is not necessary
to completely fill the square on the card with blood; just be sure to collect enough blood to be
visible (usually 2-3 drops of blood).
3. Allow the Blood Sample to Air Dry Completely for 2 - 3 Hours
Once the sample has been collected, set the Avian Blood Sample Card aside to air dry on a clean
surface. Check that the bird is no longer bleeding before returning it to its cage. To stop further
bleeding, apply a coagulant, such as Kwik Stop, to the area. Cornstarch, flour, or baking soda may
also be applied as alternatives.
Allow the card to air dry completely by leaving it at room temperature for 60-90 minutes. Once the card is completely dry, insert it into an envelope or small resealable plastic bag. Use one envelope or bag for each sample collected. Avoid touching the blood sample area while handling the card. Storage of blood cards in plastic, especially when cards are not completely dry, may lead to bacterial and fungal growth, which could render the sample unusable.
4. Mail sample with filled out paperwork to lab in an envelope. Be sure to include your email address in the kit as they will email you the results. Be sure to write the address of the lab on the envelope and your return address. Requires $1.15 cents postage from the US to Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions...
What is DNA?
This acronym stands for Deoxyribo-Nucleic-Acid. It is a long, complex molecule carrying information in the form of a chemical code and dictates how the body and cells should form.
What is the average turn around time for testing?
Approximately 1 to 2 business days.
How do I get my results?
Preliminary results can be phoned, faxed or emailed. Certificates are usually mailed the following business day. You can also view your sexing results received within the last 30 days on our Results page.
How should I ship my samples?
Regular mail is OK, however if you are working with a limited amount of time please send them via overnight mail. Priority mail is not guaranteed by USPS. Blood vials should be shipped in a padded envelope or box. To prevent further breakage please send eggshells in a box.
How much blood is needed?
Generally, 20-50ul of blood is sufficient for all our DNA based tests.
Can blood cards be submitted for disease testing?
Yes, but we prefer blood collection vials for disease testing rather than blood cards. Because of the extreme sensitivity of our disease testing, false positives may result from environmental contamination on the blood cards.
Which is more reliable, blood or feather testing?
DNA remains the same regardless of where it is extracted. Both tests are equally accurate.
How many feathers are needed for testing?
We recommend sending at least five (5).
Are freshly plucked feathers necessary for accurate results?
DNA takes an extremely long time to break down, however, testing is likely to be more successful if feathers are freshly plucked.
Can molted feathers be used?
We do not recommend sending molted feathers simply because they tend to carry much less usable DNA, and we want to be certain that the feather is from the bird being tested.
Will feather sexing promote feather picking?
No. Feather picking is generally a neurotic disorder that is not started by plucking a few chest feathers from your bird.
Will the feathers grow back?
Feathers generally grow back in 4 to 6 weeks.
What tests can be performed using feathers?
DNA sexing and PBFD testing are the only assays we offer using feather samples. In the future, we will be able to DNA fingerprint from feathers as well.
Does a bird have to be a certain age?
From birth to death, DNA remains the same across all species, so there is no age range for the most accurate results